This week in labour: Conservative myth-busting and plenty of picket lines

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There is a theme to this week's labour round-up -- or maybe there are two themes.

One has to do with the connected struggle between workers and students, and student-workers. From daycare to post-secondary, budgets are being squeezed, as are educators and students. A second, and related, theme is bad policy from public-sector spending to immigration to C-51.

Sorry, was is that too bleak? Happy weekend reading!

  • Teaching assistants at the University of Toronto return to work today. The two parties have not reached an agreement but the TA's voted 900 to 300 in favour of going to binding arbitration, in which a mutually agreed upon third-party arbitrator will be appointed to review evidence submitted by both sides and impose a legally binding decision. Last week the TAs voted 1,101 to 992 to reject the most recent collective agreement offer proposed by the University's administration. Raluca Bejan explains what  they were holding out for.
  • Record-high student debt levels are preventing Canadians from buying homes, making investments, and participating in the economy, says a report released on Thursday by the Canadian Federation of Students. We are the basement generation: 42 per cent of young adults are still living at home, up 15 per cent since 1981! 
  • In Quebec, the maple spring returned with protests and police brutality. Students descended upon Quebec City to protest the proposed budget, which offers little in the way of education funding. Before protests were even underway, students were told that the assembly had been deemed illegal and were then greeted with tear gas.
  • This week Toronto's George Brown College Toronto hosts its 23rd annual Labour Fair. This years theme, "Blaming Students, Blaming Workers: the Business of Miseducation." How apropos!
  • Cleaners and maintenance workers at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport have been in a legal strike position for three months. Workers make a little more than the provincial minimum wage, which is $10.40. They say that inadequate pay forces them to regularly rely on food banks. The airport authority says that the dispute does not concern them because the cleaners work under a subcontractor, Eurest Services. 
  • A Fraser Institute report says that public sector pay has been "soaring" in Ontario. Here are six reasons why they are dead wrong.
  • Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff testified at the Parliamentary committee hearings on Bill C-51 this week, arguing that if the bill becomes law, it will limit free speech, dissent and advocacy. 
  • On April 1,  thousands of migrant workers in Canada will becoming ineligible for work visas, thanks to 4 and 4 restrictions place on the Temporary Foreign Worker program. The Canadian Labour Congress has called this a "revolving door" policy that treats migrant workers as disposable labour. Protests to take place next week.
  • After a four day strike, daycare workers in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia returned to work, accepting a 1 per cent wage increase. CUPE 4600 President Susan Gill told the Halifax Media Co-op that this is better than nothing, considering that the nonprofit daycare is currently running a $100,000 deficit due largely to government underfunding.
  • More slashes at the CBC: 140 positions to be cut from CBC English's local news operations. CBC News general manager and editor-in-chief Jennifer McGuire says that resources will be going to mobile and online content, where 80 jobs will be created. (p.s. isn't it weird when the CBC reports on the CBC?)

Ella Bedard is's labour intern and an associate editor at GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine. She has written about labour issues for and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People.

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